Redonkulous is one of my favorite words, it’s silly but it will always get a smile out of me. If you have seen Shrek (or have seen it a dozen times like me) than you’ll understand why redonkulous warms my heart and tickles my funny bone. Keep reading…
Before Shrek hit the silver screen and became a household name, it was a humble children’s book written and illustrated by William Steig. The title is based on a Yiddish expression that means “horror” or “terror”. Schrecken in German and Yiddish means to scare, terrify, or horrify, and the ogre is definitely one scary figure. Steig’s Shrek! mocks all the conventions of a traditional fairy tale.
His mother was ugly and his father was ugly, but Shrek was uglier than the two of them put together. Sent out to find his way into the world, Shrek encounters a witch, a dragon, a donkey, a nutty knight, and a princess more hideous than him. Everywhere the ogre went animals and people fled. Even flowers bend aside and trees lean away from repulsion.
The original story of Shrek has a very different tone and style than the film; the illustrations are not as polished. Steig’s illustrations look like playful sketches, crude and rough around the edges. Though done in soft watercolours, the illustrations don’t look muted. Steig’s hand drawn patterns help liven up the pages
Steig’s Shrek! is not your normal fairy tale but it does have a happy ending.
Shrek!, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator William Steig
(November 14th, 1907 to October 3rd, 2003)
Every member of William Steig’s family was involved in the arts; following in their footsteps Steig became an artist. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Polish-Jewish immigrants from Austria, Steig’s family struggled to make ends meet. During the Great Depression the family ran into financial problems. To supplement the family’s income Steig began drawing cartoons. He sold his first cartoon to the New Yorker and has been a regular contributor since.
William Steig never completed college, even though he attended three different colleges: the City College of New York, the National Academy of Design and the Yale School of Fine Arts.
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 1, 1993)